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July 29, 2003

String

Remember when some guy used the Oblivio search function to dis me? The following week someone else used the same technique to not only praise me but dis my dis-er. Here are the ten top search strings from that week:

  • 7,290 for “fuck him you rock”
  • 51 for “hi mike”
  • 30 for “love letter”
  • 25 for “eh guy s a fuckwad don t sweat”
  • 25 for “i love you mike”
  • 24 for “your site rocks”
  • 22 for “you are so cool”
  • 19 for “dont listen to them”
  • 15 for “cheer up i like your site”

Yes, fuck him you rock was searched on 7,290 times. One assumes – prays, really – that the operation was automated.

Also I lied: only nine results are listed above. I left out #4. #4 was the best. #4 is the phrase I want used if I ever appear in a documentary and some identifying text is shown at the bottom of the screen. It is the phrase that belongs, had I the courage, at the top of my business card; the phrase that describes my best self better than any phrase ever: dear man weird but dear.

July 28, 2003

Dirt in a Cup

Just back from a short trip to Philadelphia. Big highlight: me and my mom reading every letter or postcard I ever wrote to her. My favorite was a postcard sent from summer camp, age eight. Even then, my writing style is mine.

Dear Mom,
Camp isn’t getting much better. We had to go to Camp Council for a carnival. I got poison ivy + a small case of the common cold. It was mean of you to send me here. Please send me 3 stamped postcards addressed to Pop-Pop. Miss you. Love, Michael

Another highlight: Hanging out with my seven-year-old nephew Matthew and my cousin’s five-year-old daughter Casey at a playground called The Castle. After exhausting ourselves in the heat, we took shelter under a playground toy and waited to be picked up by the rest of my family. They were late, so Matthew, a complainer, complained. Rather than reassure him, I announced that we had been forgotten and were likely to have to sleep in The Castle and eat a dinner of wood chips and grass. Casey, recognizing that I was kidding, played along. “We can have dirt in a cup,” she said. Matthew asked where we were going to get cups. Casey rolled her eyes. “From the garbage, Matthew. Where did you think?”

Later Casey said there was something written on the beam above her head. Without thinking, I asked her to read it to me. “I don’t know this word,” she said, pointing. I leaned over and looked. She was pointing at the word COCK in the phrase SUCK MY COCK, which was written in large white letters across the beam.

What to do? I decided to level with them. “I can’t read that word to you because your parents will be upset. They think it’s a bad word.”

Matthew scooted over to see. “I think it says cock,” he said.

Cock. The children looked at each other, baffled.

July 25, 2003

Feathers

How does it feel to inhabit a body? I can never know, never having known otherwise. This makes me think of Rilke’s poem of Leda and the swan, of the line And then for the first time his feathers felt marvelous. The line comes as the god Zeus, in the form of a swan, penetrates Leda. When have my feathers felt so?

July 23, 2003

Skid Marks

M emailed me last night, the first contact between us in seven months. I worked on my reply for five hours, finally sending it at four in the morning.

When I started writing I was kind. I told her that before reading her email I peed and that while peeing I repeated a little mantra to myself: “Generosity of spirit. Generosity of spirit. Generosity of spirit.”

All that got deleted.

In an early version I wrote:

Of all the things I could tell you, the thing that seems to matter most is this: I’m sorry about what’s gone down. The scene of our relationship now resembles the site of a car accident months after the cars have been towed, a few random skid marks the only evidence that something terrible happened there.

In the version I ended up sending, I deleted the first sentence, which obviously changes the meaning.

I’m not sure what happened between eleven o’clock and four in the morning. Or I do know one thing: I read her website for the first time in seven months. The thing that struck me was a piece she wrote soon after our breakup. It was about her childhood relationship with her father. As she was talking about her father, I got confused because it seemed like she was talking about me. I felt certain I must have missed a reference to my name, so I read back. There was no reference. After re-reading the passage about her father, I again felt certain that she must have switched to talking about me and had merely forgotten to say my name. However in the next paragraph she does say my name and it’s clear that she’s now comparing me to the person in the previous paragraph who really is her father.

This made me angry. I’d rather not go into why; it’s a long story, none of which matters now. What matters instead (or so I thought while peeing) is to find some way to say it’s okay, even if I would only be saying it. Generosity of spirit.

We had our own private language. One of the new pieces on her site was addressed to me in that language. It was a kind of goodbye. I cried when I read it. She always could write things that made me cry. Immediately after reading it, I wrote a response in the same language, never intending to send it. I wish now I had. This is how it ends:

But what does it all mean now? Not much. I say this not to be mean but to say it. All gone like a dream. For that’s what it feels like, like a dream I had or we both had once. Can you think of when we would try, each in our own bed, to dream in the same shade or hue of blue or red? Not once did that work. Nor could I feel it when you would kiss me in my mind how you said you planned to – on my throat, my eyes, in front of my ears, and at last my lips. Still it’s true, I want to find a way to say that we do what we can, though it is nuts, all of it, nuts and cracked, and that still the sun comes up and goes down like that ride in the park, the one that goes round and round for what seems like no time when the time has all passed and you step from the ride and are gone.

July 20, 2003

Fireflies

Last night I attended a friend’s birthday dinner in Central Park, at Sheep Meadow Cafe. I think I drank too much. At one point, head spinning, I went off in search of fireflies. I found a few in an unlit field. Watching them I realized for the first time that they don’t flicker on and off but dive, again and again, into something dark. We see them as they surface and turn and dive back down into the darkness.